JACKSONVILLE – Todd Wash likes what he sees.
And when it comes to the defense's look during 2016 Organized Team Activities, the Jaguars' first-year defensive coordinator actually likes it a lot.
It isn't just that the defense added talent in the offseason and appears better, faster and more aware. It's how the defense is playing within Head Coach Gus Bradley's scheme.
Wash on Thursday said the scheme now looks as it is supposed to look.
And he said that's a big thing for him to see.
"The system hasn't changed, it's how you run the system," Wash said Thursday after 2016 OTA practice No. 5 at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields.
Wash, the defensive line coach the last three seasons and the line coach/run game coordinator in 2015, said a primary difference is in coverage.
"We were more of a match-route team and that kind of stuff and that's not what this system is – nothing against anyone else," Wash said of the defensive approach the last three seasons. "We're a zone team. You can see guys getting more breaks on the balls. We're getting hands on the balls.
"We've practiced more than we ever have and our interceptions are up already from last year. It's positive that they're understanding exactly how this system needs to be run and it obviously helps with Gus running it before and I've been in it before. It's running the way it's supposed to run."
The Jaguars finished last season ranked No. 24 in the NFL in yards allowed under coordinator Bob Babich, but also finished 31st in sacks and 31st in third down defense. Players during OTAs have said the primary changes are taking place in third-down and passing situations.
Since taking over as defensive coordinator in January, Wash has talked about the need for greater accountability in the defense. That has been a theme among defensive players during OTAs when discussing the difference under Wash.
Wash on Thursday said veterans have embraced the concept to noticeable effects this offseason.
"It's something that they've asked for," Wash said. "We have to adapt to our players too. We don't let the little things slip and it doesn't matter if you're [10-year veteran middle linebacker] Paul Posluszny or you're [second-year safety] James Sample.
"You're going to get called out in front of your peers and in front of the whole unit. So there's a lot of accountability from our end."
Wash also said the difference in speed on defense this offseason compared to last season is noticeable.
"It's exciting to see," Wash said. "You see a ball will be caught and instead of a seven- or eight-yard gain, it's a four-yard gain because we're breaking and playing the football. We're excited about our team speed. We just have to continue to get better."
Also on Thursday:
*Praise continued for the recent play of the defense in practice, with quarterback Blake Bortles and Wash talking of an interception by free safety Tashaun Gipson in practice Tuesday. Bortles said Gipson came from the opposite hash to make the interception and called the play "pretty impressive." Bortles added, "Those guys are flying around and it's cool to see them thriving. They've done a good job and they're definitely a talented group." Wash said it was the sort of play the team hadn't gotten from the free-safety position the past three seasons. "His ball instincts, his break on the ball … he understands the zone concept and we're very excited about him at free safety," Wash said of Gipson. "Extremely excited."
Images from the fifth day of Jaguars organized team activities.
*Wash also discussed defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft who missed his rookie season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament: "He's more explosive than I thought he was to be honest with you. We're very excited about it. We're trying to limit him as much as we can, giving him a couple reps per series when he goes out. We're very excited about what he's doing and how he's coming along." …
*Wash discussed the strong-safety competition between fourth-year veteran Johnathan Cyprien and second-year veteran James Sample: "It's a good competition," he said. "You can tell that Cyp's been in the system a lot longer than Sample has at this point in time, but there's a good battle going on." Wash said though Sample is improving each day he essentially is a rookie "all over again" after playing four games last season. …